Aaron Coleman’s election to the Kansas House of Representatives would have been remarkable for a young candidate trying to overthrow an incumbent. But instead he let the state’s Democratic leaders say they will take “whatever steps are necessary” to ensure Mr. Coleman does not sit in the state legislature.
Mr. Coleman’s campaign over the summer was overshadowed by his confession that he sent revenge porn and bullied girls online in college.
In August, Mr Coleman, 20, won a Democratic primary over seven-term holder Stan Frownfelter by 14 votes. Mr. Coleman originally planned to step down as his party’s candidate, but then ran in the general election. Mr. Frownfelter ran as a written general election candidate and lost, the Kansas City Star reported.
“I want to let my political views be what people know me for,” Coleman said in an email Saturday.
Since Mr. Coleman’s election, Democratic leaders have distanced themselves from him and are seeking to make sure he is not seated, said Tom Sawyer, the Kansas House minority leader.
The Associated Press reported that party leaders took the stance after Mr Coleman made comments on Twitter that they saw as a threat to state Governor Laura Kelly, a Democrat.
A political agent provided the AP with a screenshot of one of Mr Coleman’s tweets, which has since been deleted, in which he said Ms Kelly would face an ‘extremely bloody’ Democratic primary race in two years.
“I’m not playing,” wrote Coleman, the AP reported. “People will realize that someday, when I tell you a hard blow, it’s real.”
Mr Coleman said he could have chosen his words better but his tweet had not been a call for physical violence.
“My tweets were a political call to action for progressives to come forward against establishment candidates,” said Coleman. “Many constituents in my riding have endorsed this statement and have read my tweets in context.”
Democratic heads of state, including Ms. Kelly and Vicki Hiatt, president of the Kansas Democratic Party, called Mr. Coleman “unfit to sit in the Kansas legislature.”
“Kansas House Democrats will take whatever steps are necessary to ensure Coleman does not sit in the Legislature,” said Minority Leader Sawyer. “With Republican cooperation, I believe we can resolve this issue and find a competent, stable, principled replacement to serve the 37th District.”
But Kansas House speaker Ron Ryckman told the Kansas City Star editorial board he “would be wary of any attempt to override the people’s vote.”
Mr Coleman admitted that at college he harassed girls online, calling a sixth grade girl fat and suggesting she should kill herself. Seven years ago, he told another girl, who was 13 at the time, that he would circulate a photo of her naked if she didn’t send him more nude pictures. He ended up doing it.
The Kansas House of Representatives maintains accountability for its own members, said Richard E. Levy, professor of constitutional law at the University of Kansas. Mr. Coleman’s removal process would begin with a complaint and a committee investigation. The committee would write a report and a two-thirds vote in the House would then be required to remove a member from office.
Professor Levy said the rules and standards were quite vague as to when an MP could be expelled and for what offenses.
“It is possible that he could argue in the House of Representatives that he should not be removed or expelled because of behavior that has occurred some time in the past,” he told About Mr. Coleman. “And in the end, it would just depend on the vote.”
As for efforts to block or topple him, Mr Coleman told the AP: “As long as I don’t break the public’s trust and break my oath of office, you can’t overrule the results. of democracy. ”
Mr Coleman said that from now on he would like to be known for his political ideas and policies, including introducing a bill to legalize cannabis.
“I realize that not all representatives will have the same ideas as mine,” he said. “But I’m ready to work with anyone who wants to make positive change in Kansas,” he said.